A recently released report on the U visa program for crime victims by Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General is useful in its findings, and is still more helpful by (accidentally) bringing up a basic question: Why should oodles of aliens get a short-term amnesty, with green cards for some, simply because they were crime victims in the U.S.?
I make a distinction between an Afghan whose life is or was in danger because he or she had been our ally in a far-away place, and an illegal alien who got assaulted by (probably) another illegal alien, maybe even a relative, right here in the States.
A further distinction can be made between once-in-a-lifetime problems, like the failed wars in Afghanistan or Vietnam, and the ongoing, continuous, relatively low-level violence in some low-income, largely alien communities in the U.S.
And then there are the population/amnesty implications of the U visa program which has, in addition to handing out 10,000 green cards a year to victims, a 270,000-visa backlog, giving more than a quarter of a million illegals long-term temporary legal status and work permits. There is a congressional ceiling on the issuance of green cards to crime victims of 10,000 a year, but there is no upper ceiling to the number of U visa dependents that can be legalized. (Yes, under the right set of circumstances a relative of the once-mugged illegal alien gets a green card, too.)
The staff of the Inspector General office, however, are not given the power to comment on the highly questionable policies laid down by Congress. They must limit themselves to the highly questionable ways our immigration officials, in both the Trump and Biden administrations, handle this program.
One of the main excuses for the existence of the program is that it is intended to help law enforcement, in that an illegal alien crime victim is, supposedly, more willing to go to the police if he or she is guaranteed not to be deported. So the OIG asked 57 different police departments that had worked with the program if it was helpful. The report said:
Of those surveyed 61 percent stated the program does not significantly improve their ability to investigate and solve crimes and 54 percent believe petitioners [the aliens] abuse the program ... in some cases [involving] “staged” crimes or “exaggerated injuries”.
Speaking of abusing the program, the report also indicates in every year from 2010 through 2020 USCIS managed to exceed the 10,000 limit by between nine and 77 visas. The report did not suggest the rational response to such a problem: Issue 77 fewer visas the next year.
The investigators also found 10 specific cases of apparent fraud, such as forged signatures and/or altered police documents; this reader would have liked to hear about more than 10 such cases and to be told about them in some detail.
OIG made the suggestion that instead of the aliens presenting the police documents to the government, the police send them directly to USCIS. This recommendation and another were rejected by USCIS. That recommendation was:
Recommendation 3: We recommend the Associate Director, Service Center Operations Directorate, develop a plan to track the outcome of U visa-related fraud referrals and take steps to further mitigate fraud risks.
Although that recommendation sounds to me like a totally mild and sound bit of advice, USCIS argued it was not needed. In fact, the longest single part of the report consisted of 20 pages or so of USCIS protesting that proposed reforms are not needed.
The U visa program has some of the same characteristics as the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which gives green cards to aliens who claim that their citizen or green card spouses had abused them. Both programs open the way to an amnesty on little more than the word of an individual alien. The differences are 1) that there is no citizen to complain in the U visa program, and; 2) the lack of a significant backlog in the VAWA program and its relatively faster pace. And, of course, you can get a U visa without having to marry anyone.
For more on marriage-related immigration fraud see here.